UN anti-drug day marked on ops

This article has photo gallery Published on CPL Sebastian Beurich (author), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Topic(s): Operations, Operation MANITOU, HMAS Arunta (F151), Drug interdiction

HMAS Arunta's sailors weigh illegal narcotics seized during their operation Manitou patrol in the Middle East region on 8 June 2017. (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
HMAS Arunta's sailors weigh illegal narcotics seized during their operation Manitou patrol in the Middle East region on 8 June 2017.

Coalition forces and government agencies know terrorist organisations use illegal narcotics as one of their primary sources of income to fund criminal activities, so the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is important to mark.
As of that day, 26 June, Royal Australian Navy ships which have deployed to the Middle East on Operation MANITOU since 1 July 2014 have intercepted more than 4,654 kilograms of heroin and 6,389 kilograms of hashish.
The estimated value of these drugs according to Australian Crime Commission figures is more than $2.6 billion.
Disrupting this source of terrorist funding is one of the reasons why Navy has a unit and personnel embedded in the Combined Maritime Forces headquarters in Bahrain, intercepting illegal cargoes and conducting maritime security activities.
Australia’s frigate currently on deployment in the Middle East, HMAS Arunta has seized about 570 kilograms of heroin and 800 kilograms of hashish, which is estimated to be valued at nearly $200 million AUD since she deployed to the region in late 2016.
Commanding Officer Arunta Commander Cameron Steil said the dedication and professionalism of his ship’s company continued to set a high standard of operational competence.
“Our combined efforts under Combined Task Force – 150 improve the overall maritime security, stability and prosperity in the region,” he said.
“By denying terrorist organisations their ability to move personnel, weapons and narcotics, we are obstructing their capacity to raise funds.”
The Combined Task Force is a multinational coalition which promotes maritime security in order to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities.
Commander of Combined Task Force-150, French Navy Rear Admiral Oliver Lebas said Australia was dedicated to disrupting the illicit drug trade in the region.
“Units continue to remove significant quantities of narcotics from international markets, and so prevent criminal and terrorist organisations benefiting from the trade,” he said.
Operation MANITOU is the Australian Defence Force contribution to the US-led Combined Maritime Forces, which is a 31 nation partnerships focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.